It’s getting kids to eat what parents serve that causes so many problems.

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DINA ROSE, PhD is a sociologist, parent educator and feeding expert empowering parents to raise kids who eat right.
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Dinner Together Building Healthy Families One Meal at a Time.

Food Politics Marion Nestle's intelligent take on the politics of food and nutrition.

Fooducate Like Having a Dietician on Speed dial.

Hoboken Family Alliance A terrific resource for people living in the great city of Hoboken, NJ.

The Lunch Tray Everything you need to know about improving school lunches.

Parent Hacks Forehead-Smackingly Smart Tips

Raise Healthy Eaters One of the best blogs (other than my own) for learning to raise healthy eaters.

Real Mom Nutrition Tales from the Trenches. Advice for the Real World. From a mom-nutritionist who knows!

Stay and Play The best indoor playspace on the East Coast. Oh yeah, and it happens to be owned by my brother.

weelicious Great Recipes for Kids 

Entries in Fruit (13)

Wednesday
Aug132014

Are Packed Lunches Healthy? Research Says, "No."

By now you've probably heard about the research study which found that home-packed lunches are often nutritionally inferior to school lunches.

The study found:
  • Only 27% of home-packed lunches met at least 3 of 5 National School Lunch Program standards
  • Only 4% of snacks met 2 of 4 Child and Adult Care Food Program standards.

The Boston Globe wrote about this study, and I was thrilled that my thoughts were included in the article. Read At lunch, home-packed may not mean healthy.

Three things stand out from this study for me...

1) The easiest way to improve the quality of your child's diet is to improve snacks.

You could, if you wanted, forget about lunch. Snacks are where the action really is.

Desserts & sweetened beverages are the major source of calories children consume from snacks. But salty snacks are gaining ground! Read The Snack Attack.

Teach your kids that, from a habits perspective, snack is a time of day, not a type of food.

  • Make fruits and vegetables the go-to for snacks. You don't have to do this everyday, but most days would be the ideal goal.
  • Start off small. One or two bites of fruit or vegetable, combined with other "snack" foods would be a good start.
  • Talk to your children before you pack their snacks. Otherwise the fruits and vegetables will definitely come home uneaten!

When I wrote about this on my Facebook page, someone noted that her child got teased when he brought vegetables for lunch. While my general thought is, "Shame on those other children," my other thought is, "Children need to learn lots of life lessons and being different is one of them. This is actually a gentle way to begin that conversation with your kids.

2) It's easy to think we have only two choices: send a healthy lunch or send a junky one. This is a false dichotomy.

Baby steps change habits in the longterm, and that's what you're after. Consider using:

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

SourceHubbard, K. L., A. Must, M. Eliasziw, S. C. Folta, and J. Goldberg. 2014. “What's in Children's Backpacks: Foods Brought From Home.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics In press.

Tuesday
Jun032014

3 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruits & Vegetables

I've often been critical of modeling as a technique for increasing kids' vegetable consumption.

It's not that I think modeling isn't important. It's that I think modeling just isn't powerful enough.

Imagine someone telling you that the best way to teach your kids how to dress themselves is to let them "catch" you wearing clothes.

Kids need to see you eating fruits and vegetables, for sure. But they also need to learn how to taste new foods, to develop a foundation of eating a variety of foods, to become more familiar with the sensory properties of fruits and vegetables. The list of the skills kids need to learn to develop healthy eating habits goes on.

Having said that...

A new study shows that not all modeling is equally effective. So...

Parents, start eating:

  • Fruit at dinner
  • Green salad at dinner
  • Vegetables at snack

It's not that these modeling moments are more powerful than modeling, say, eating vegetables at dinner. Rather...

Teaching children to eat fruits and vegetables throughout the day increases their total consumption.

Read Change How Your Kids Snack

The same logic applies to adding salad and fruit to dinner. Read Salad Days and Dishing Up Dessert.

Rather than fight with your kids to eat a few more bites of vegetables at dinner, give your kids more opportunities to eat only a few bites.

  • A few bites add up across the day
  • Eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day is simply the right habit

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source: Draxten, M., J. A. Fulkerson, S. Friend, C. F. Flattum, and R. Schow. 2014. “Parental Role Modeling of Fruits and Vegetables At Meals and Snacks is Associated With Children's Adequate Consumption.” Appetite 78C: 1-7.

Tuesday
May272014

Change How Your Kids Snack

The easiest way to change how your kids eat is to change how they snack.

Most parents I know think of meals as The Nutrition Zone— The time when parents try to pack in the nutrients—and snacks as the Fun Zone (or maybe it's the Forgotten Zone).

Here's the math on Fruits and Vegetables: On average, children consume....
  • Less than 3 servings per day
  • Less than half of one serving at snack time
  • Slightly more than 1 serving at dinner

Changing Snack Behavior is easier than changing Dinner Beahvior because...

Adding some to zero gives you a bigger mathematical bang-for-your-buck than adding more to some.

If your children eat 2 snacks each day, and if those snacks usually featured fruits and vegetables, that would add up to a big change in their diets...even if your kids only ate a few bites at each snack.

On the other hand, getting kids who normally eat 3 or 4 bites of vegetable at dinner to eat 5, 6, or 7 bites would probably be a lot of work for YOU. And you'd probably resort to begging, bribing, etc. (You know not to do that, right? Read Wheelin' & Dealin': 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Trade Peas for Pie.)

Fruits and Vegetables should be your kids' Go-To Snack.

I know, you think your kids won't eat fruits and vegetables at snack time and you don't want them to be hungry. Or, your kids are in school where they don't serve fruits and vegs at snacktime. Or fruits and vegetables aren't really portable.

I hear you. To these real objections and problems I say:

  • Instead of emphasizing health, talk to your kids about proportion. Fruits and vegetables should show up in the diet more frequently as a group than crackers, cookies, salty snacks, etc.
  • It's ok to let children refuse a snack. It teaches them that temporary hunger is survivable. Think of this as letting your kids build an appetite.
  • If your kids have a meltdown, this is a behavioral problem, not a food problem. And even if you know that food would solve the meltdown, you still have to teach your kids how to behave even if they're hungry.
  • Compensate for schools that serve lots of crackers and salty snacks by making sure you serve healthy after-school snacks. Again, teach the concept of proportion.
  • It's just as easy to grab an apple as it is to grab a bag of Goldfish crackers. But I hear you: why not store some apples and oranges in the car, replacing/replenishing every few days? Or pre-cut/pre-bag fruit and keep it in the refrigerator?

If you want your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables you have to serve more fruits and vegetables.

Eating is really a matter of math. Kids want to eat the foods they're most accustomed to eating.

Research shows that kids today take in a lot more calories from snacks than they did a generation ago.

Sadly, the research also shows that kids don't compensate for consuming more calories during snack by consuming fewer calories at meals.

And even sadder is this news: Most snack calories come from desserts and sweetened beverages, but salty snacks – i.e. potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels -- and candy are the fastest growing category of snack consumption.

Read Snacks: The Gifts That Keep On Giving

Your Kids won't be the only ones to benefit from better snacking. Your life will improve too.

To find out how, read 10 Ways Improving Your Kids' Snacking Will Improve YOUR Life. 

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source "Here's the math...": Draxten, M., J. A. Fulkerson, S. Friend, C. F. Flattum, and R. Schow. 2014. “Parental Role Modeling of Fruits and Vegetables At Meals and Snacks is Associated With Children's Adequate Consumption.” Appetite 78C: 1-7.